Who is Shang-Chi and what are the Ten Rings? A deeper look, and missed opportunities promoting superhero movies

Ten Rings

“Why are they advertising that Suicide Squad movie now?  Didn’t it come out 5 years ago?”

A major gap in the now enormous industry of producing nine-figure, blockbuster superhero movies is that the movie studios are missing an opportunity to retain audiences.  No doubt more than half of the audience for Avengers: Endgame, which earned nearly $2.8 billion at the box office, was from moviegoers that were merely passing fans of the MCU.  Maybe they accompanied a spouse or a kid to the movie.  Most probably had never read a comic book before or since.  Studios today assume audiences will just show up for the spectacle.  But are they right?  Take the trailers for competing superhero movie studio DC Entertainment’s The Suicide Squad.  Nothing in the movie trailers–the only glimpse most prospective moviegoers will see via their TVs–explains why there is another movie called The Suicide Squad.  Do they think most TV viewers catching the commercial notice the addition of the “The” in the title?  Do they assume everyone still reads a newspaper or online entertainment source and is going to make an effort to understand that this new movie is different than the universally panned Suicide Squad of 2016?  Do they really think most prospective movie ticket buyers know or care who the director is?

Which is why it’s refreshing, and a wise move, to see Kevin Feige, mastermind behind all the Marvel Cinematic Universe, discussing the background for the latest new Marvel superhero in a new short feature clip for Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.  

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Even life-long comic book readers may not have heard of Shang-Chi.  But instead of just expecting you to know why you may want to see his movie, Feige/Marvel/Disney are taking that extra step to communicate.  It’s particularly a smart business move because audiences in more than half of the U.S. states are grinding their return from the pandemic to a halt as COVID illness numbers return to spike at levels to match the worst of last year’s numbers.  No doubt like it saw with Black Widow’s meager box office showing, Disney is going to need to rely on home streaming to get even modest returns from the next Marvel movie.

We had our first peek at Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings here at borg this past April with another here in June.  Like the trailers for Snake Eyes and Mortal Kombat, anyone can tell these movies are going to be martial arts action spectacles tied to major comic book, toy, and gaming franchises.  Now potential movie watchers can get some understanding of how Shang-Chi fits into the rest of the MCU.  Feige reminds them (or more likely informs them for the first time) that the Ten Rings was the organization behind Tony Stark’s capture in Iron Man, further elaborated on in the (mostly forgettable) third Iron Man movie.  If this tie to the wider franchise doesn’t get them into the theaters, at least it might get them to rent the movie online.

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Check out the new feature below and the latest TV trailer for Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings:

Chang-Chi is played by Canadian actor Simu Liu (Orphan Black, Warehouse 13), comedian and comedic actor Awkwafina (Nora from Queens, Jumanji: The Next Level) plays his friend Katy, Tony Chiu-Wai Leung (Once Upon a Time in Hong Kong, Forced Vengeance) is The Mandarin, Michelle Yeoh (Star Trek Discovery, Guardians of the Galaxy 2) is Jiang Li, Florian Munteano (Creed 2) is a new cyborg, and Ronny Chieng (Godzilla vs Kong, Crazy Rich Asians) is Shang-Chi’s friend Jon-Jon.


Long-time comics readers may know Shang-Chi as the Master of Kung Fu from the pages of 1970s Marvel Comics by Steve Englehart and Jim Starlin.  Originally the son of Fu Manchu, the character was an attempt by Marvel to create a monthly comic like the Kung Fu TV series after they failed in their bid to get the adaptation rights for that show.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings arrives in theaters September 3, 2021.

C.J. Bunce / Editor / borg

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